Vol 5 No. 50 - August 31, 2005

Dock space adds value to your property
By Louise Bolger

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink? How about, water, water everywhere, but no place to keep your boat? That’s what’s happening in Florida despite the fact that Florida has 1,197 miles of coastline in addition to 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and other waterways.

The Sunday New York Times reported in July on the shortage of dock space in the state of Florida. This, of course, comes as no surprise to boat owners in Manatee County and on Anna Maria Island who may have been scrambling recently to find a place to keep their boats. Many marinas have recently close to make way for new construction or are getting ready to convert to "dockominiums" and "rackominiums." The bottom line is that there are fewer and fewer dock spaces available for people who are not lucky enough to own property with a dock. According to the Times, it’s so bad in Miami that companies have sprouted up with the sole purpose of finding available dock space for individuals.

To make matters even worse, the number of registered boats in Florida is growing faster than the population. Boat registrations were up 30 percent in 2004, but the state’s population was only up by 21 percent. In Lee County (Naples), there are 91 registered boats per 1,000 people, about double what you might find in more populated northern states. And the boats are getting bigger with 60 and 80 foot vessels not uncommon on our local waters.

So how do you think this impacts real estate values which are already through the roof? If you own a condo or single- family home with a boat slip attached to it, hold on to your hats. By some estimates, your property is probably worth a minimum of 10percent more than if you did not have legal dock space.

That’s a conservative figure, in my opinion, based on Longboat Key Moornings and Riveria Dunes dockominiums which start at about $250,000 for a 40-foot slip plus annual fees. If you are lucky enough to find a commercial marina for your 50-foot boat, you can expect to pay $600 to $750 a month.

The Times quotes Lawton Chiles III, son of the late Florida governor and brother of Ed Chiles, as saying that the condominium project he is building in northwest Florida has an added value of about $150,000 per unit because of the boat slips. Since these condo units are starting at $695,000, Mr. Childs’ estimate of value is better than 20 percent.

Because of environmental issues, even if you own property on the water, getting permission to build a dock can often take a year or more to obtain, if you can get it. This is in addition to the expense and inconvenience to you and your neighbors during the construction. All of this makes existing, residential dock space more and more valuable as the population of both people and boats increases.

Florida is suddenly in the position of having to manage growth for both people and boats, a scenario that can only bring a smile to the faces of property owners with boat docks – as if we needed more to be happy about.

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